Off Grid internet?

Off Grid Internet Options

Getting Internet Off the Grid

Living off grid and being fully self-sufficient often means being in a remote area far from typical internet infrastructure. However, you will need to find an internet provider because maintaining an internet connection to use the internet  is still crucial these days for access to information, communication, entertainment and more.

There are several options for off-grid internet to consider:


  • Satellite internet – Satellite internet beams signals from orbiting satellites to provide internet access even in the most remote places. Companies like Starlink offer plans with no data caps. The main downsides are latency and weather disruptions.
  • Cellular internet – With a good cell phone signal, you can use a mobile hotspot or unlimited data plan in a SIM card to connect devices. But coverage can be spotty in rural areas. Signal boosters and external antennas may help.
  • Fixed wireless – Some local internet service providers use point-to-point fixed wireless transmitters to deliver fairly fast internet with an outdoor antenna. But you’ll need line of sight to a tower.
  • Public WiFi – Places like libraries, cafes, and campgrounds may offer free public WiFi if located nearby. Speed and reliability varies greatly.
  • DIY long-range WiFi – You can extend a distant WiFi signal using a powerful outdoor antenna and amplifier connected to a router. Performance depends greatly on terrain.

Many who are living off-grid get creative in finding ways to access the internet. While satellite internet and cellular data are the most turnkey options today, no single solution is perfect. Combining several approaches to choose a type of connection may be needed to stay reliably connected. With good planning and resourcefulness, you can definitely achieve decent off grid internet.

Satellite for Off Grid Internet Access

Satellite internet has become one of the most popular solutions for getting internet in remote and rural areas thanks to providers like Starlink. Here’s an overview of how it works and key considerations:

  • Satellite internet works by beaming data between a central ground station and a network of satellites orbiting the earth. A dish at your off-grid home connects to the satellites overhead.

  • The main benefits are availability just about anywhere, no need for cable infrastructure, and unlimited data plans. Speeds around 100 Mbps are common.

  • Downsides include higher latency due to the satellite distance, potential for weather disruptions, and obstruction by trees and terrain. Initial equipment cost is high.

  • Leading providers like Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat offer residential satellite internet plans you can compare. Starlink generally offers the best performance if available in your area.

  • With a clear view of the southern sky and proper dish installation, satellite internet can provide reliable high-speed access even in very remote places off the grid. Using a roof mount helps avoid obstructions.

  • While not a perfect solution, satellite internet has become the go-to option for many off-grid homesteads needing decent internet connectivity. With an unlimited data plan, you can stay conveniently connected.

For most seeking a simple turnkey internet solution for an off-grid lifestyle, satellite providers like Starlink are currently the top choice to research further. Make sure to select an unlimited data plan to avoid overages.

Cellular and Mobile Data Off-Grid

In areas with decent cell phone signal, using cellular data plans is another option for getting internet off-grid:

  • With a strong cell signal, you can use a mobile hotspot device or smartphone with an unlimited data SIM card to connect other devices wirelessly.

  • Cell phone signal boosters and external MIMO antennas can grab more distant signals and amplify them to improve connectivity.

  • Downsides are reliance on proximity to a cell tower, potential throttling after data usage limits, and coverage gaps in ultra remote areas. Reliability varies.

  • National networks like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile offer unlimited data plans for mobile hotspot devices useful for rural and off-grid access. Regional providers may have better local coverage.

  • For a primary home internet connection, use external antennas mounted high up to get the best possible cell signal. Test speeds first.

  • While not as consistent as satellite internet, a cellular plan can provide a backup internet option for an off-grid home, especially if mobility is needed. Use calling and texting too.

For many rural and remote properties, combining satellite internet with a cellular plan provides a balance of high speeds and mobility. Improving your cell signal can make this a viable secondary option for staying connected off-grid when needed. Test coverage first.

Fixed Wireless and WISPs for Off-Grid Internet

In some rural areas, smaller regional internet service providers called WISPs can deliver internet via fixed wireless technology:

  • Fixed wireless uses point-to-point radio links between a transmitter tower and receiver antenna at your off-grid home.

  • When in direct line-of-sight view of a tower, fixed wireless can provide fairly fast speeds without cable infrastructure.

  • Limitations are the need for unobstructed line-of-sight, smaller coverage areas, and reliance on the WISP staying operational.

  • Research availability of WISPs providing fixed wireless internet in your region. Speeds and pricing vary greatly.

  • With a clear view of a tower within 10 miles or so, fixed wireless from a WISP can be a high-speed off-grid internet option.

  • Install a sturdy outdoor antenna mast and mounting hardware to establish line-of-sight access to the transmitter.

  • While reliant on the WISP’s service, fixed wireless can deliver fast, unlimited internet without satellites or cellular data.

For rural properties with line-of-sight access to a regional WISP’s towers, fixed wireless broadband can provide an affordable and reliable internet solution worth exploring. Just be sure to verify signal strength first.

Public WiFi and Hotspots for Off-Grid Access

While not feasible as a primary internet solution, public WiFi hotspots can provide supplemental internet access in certain off-grid situations:

  • When making trips to town, places like the library, coffee shops, restaurants, RV parks, campgrounds, and marinas often offer free public WiFi.

  • Speeds and reliability vary greatly, but public WiFi can allow basic internet access for email, messaging, and light web browsing when away from home.

  • Downsides are lack of security on public networks, needing to be in proximity to the hotspot, spotty connections, and restrictions on data usage.

  • Having a laptop, smartphone, or mobile hotspot device allows connecting when a public network is available nearby. Apps like WiFi Map help locate hotspots.

  • While no substitute for home internet, public WiFi enables occasional access for those living remotely when traveling or staying at recreational sites.

  • Use a VPN app to encrypt traffic and avoid eavesdropping when using public networks. Don’t access sensitive accounts or info without protection.

For people living off-grid, keeping a mobile device on hand provides the flexibility to utilize free public WiFi when available in town. But reliability and security remain concerns needing caution.

DIY and Alternative Off-Grid Internet Options

For the truly dedicated, some DIY and alternative methods can provide internet access in remote locales:

  • Long-range WiFi – Using high-gain directional antennas, WiFi signals can be extended for miles to reach an existing network. Performance varies greatly.

  • Mesh networking – Chains of special wireless routers pass network connections from node to node. Allows sharing connections in a community.

  • Web-in-a-Box – These devices allow hosting an offline local network with cached websites and apps without internet connectivity.

  • Sneaker net – Using physical storage devices to transfer data from internet connections in town back to a computer offline at home.

  • Packet radio – Amateur radio operators route data packets over HF and VHF radio. Very niche but works offline.

  • Satellite messenger – Satellite-based messengers like Garmin inReach allow basic text messaging and SOS from remote locations.

  • Low orbit satellites – Emerging networks like Starlink’s satellites promise global low latency broadband in the future.

These options require technical skill and often have significant limitations. But they illustrate the lengths some will go to for connectivity off the grid. With creativity, many solutions are possible!

Comparing Internet Options for Off-Grid Living

When evaluating internet solutions for an off-grid home, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option for your specific situation. Here are some key criteria to compare:

  • Availability – Which providers service your physical location? Satellite has the widest coverage.

  • Speed – Faster is better. Satellite and fixed wireless offer fastest speeds, if available.

  • Data limits – Unlimited data is ideal for home use. Satellite and some cellular plans are unlimited.

  • Reliability – How consistent is connectivity on a daily basis? Satellite and fixed wireless are most reliable.

  • Latency – Satellite has high latency. Other options like fixed wireless have lower latency.

  • Mobility – Cellular data plans allow internet on the go. Other options are fixed installation.

  • Cost – What are the monthly fees? How much are hardware and installation?

  • Ease of setup – Satellite, cellular, public WiFi are easiest to setup. DIY options require technical skill.

Carefully evaluating these criteria based on your connectivity needs, budget, and location will ensure you select the best off-grid internet solution. Combining options can provide balance too. 

Getting Started with Off-Grid Internet

If you’re preparing to get internet access for an off-grid home, here are some tips to begin your planning:

  • First research which providers offer internet service in your area. Check satellite, cellular, fixed wireless and WISPs.

  • Compare plans on cost, speeds, data limits, and reliability. Weigh pros and cons for your needs.

  • For satellite, you’ll need clear southern sky access for the dish. Account for trees and terrain.

  • With cellular data, test signal strength in location first. Consider external antennas if weak.

  • Fixed wireless requires line-of-sight to tower. Install a sturdy outdoor antenna mast.

  • Public WiFi offers flexibility when in town. Use a VPN for security.

  • Budget for equipment like routers, hotspots, antennas. Factor in install costs if needed.

  • Combining options like satellite primary plus cellular backup provides balance.

With some upfront research and planning tailored to your off-grid property, you can achieve decent internet access even in very remote locations. Prioritize reliability and unlimited data for a smooth off-grid online experience.

Conclusion on Off-Grid Internet Access

Getting reliable internet access and being able to connect to the internet is crucial for most people looking to live off the grid today. While it presents challenges, there are now several viable options:

  • Satellite internet from providers like Starlink is the easiest turnkey solution for remote properties if you have clear sky view. Just get the dish professionally installed and select an unlimited data plan.

  • For supplemental connectivity, a mobile hotspot with unlimited data on a cellular network can provide good backup internet if you have decent cell signal, especially with an external antenna.

  • In some rural areas, regional WISPs deliver fast internet via fixed wireless towers, if your home has direct line-of-sight access.

  • When in town, having the ability to utilize free public WiFi hotspots keeps you connected while away from your off-grid homestead.

With proper planning and setup, reliable high-speed internet access is achievable even in very remote off-grid locations today. Do your homework to compare options and don’t settle for expensive satellite plans with restrictive data. Creative solutions can get you connected. Welcome to the world of off-grid internet!

Key Takeaways on Off-Grid Internet

To summarize key points on getting internet access for an off-grid lifestyle:

  • Reliable internet is achievable even in very remote off-grid locations today. Don’t settle for lack of connectivity.

  • Research all options thoroughly – satellite, cellular, fixed wireless, WISPs, and public WiFi. Compare on cost, data, speed.

  • For primary home use, focus on unlimited data plans without throttling or deprioritization. Satellite or WISPs are best for this.

  • Having a backup internet source like cellular provides redundancy if your main connection has an outage.

  • Getting a strong, consistent signal is key for cellular, wireless, and satellite. Use external antennas and ideal mounting locations when possible.

  • Creative solutions like chaining multiple approaches can enhance reliability. Don’t rely on just one option.

  • While not a replacement for home internet, public WiFi enables connectivity when traveling to town.

  • Invest time in planning your ideal setup. This will enable smooth internet access empowering your off-grid dreams!

With the right technology and independent spirit, you can stay conveniently connected from even the most remote off-grid homestead. Do your research, find creative solutions, and don’t compromise. Quality internet access is possible.